Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.

But what is to be thought of the fact that the authoress of these tales is also the translator of Strauss’s notorious book?  Is the Gospel which she has represented in so many attractive lights nothing better to her, after all, than “fabula ista de Christo”?  Are the various forms under which she has exhibited it no more for her than the Mahometan and Hindoo systems were for the poet of Thalaba and Kehama?  Has she been carrying out in these novels the precepts of that chapter in which Dr. Strauss teaches his disciples how, while believing the New Testament narrative to be merely mythical, they may yet discharge the functions of the Christian preacher without exposing themselves by their language to any imputation of unsoundness?  But, even apart from this distressing question, there is much to interfere with the hope and the interest with which we should wish to look forward to the future career of a writer so powerful and so popular as the authoress of these books—­much to awaken very serious apprehensions as to the probable effect of her influence.  No one who has looked at all into our late fictitious literature can have failed to be struck with the fondness of many of the writers of the day for subjects which at an earlier time would not have been thought of, or would have been carefully avoided.  The idea that fiction should contain something to soothe, to elevate, or to purify seems to be extinct.  In its stead there is a love for exploring what would be better left in obscurity; for portraying the wildness of passion and the harrowing miseries of mental conflict; for dark pictures of sin and remorse and punishment; for the discussion of questions which it is painful and revolting to think of.  By some writers such themes are treated with a power which fascinates even those who most disapprove the manner in which it is exercised; by others with a feebleness which shows that the infection has spread even to the most incapable of the contributors to our circulating libraries.  To us the influence of the “Jack Shepherd” school of literature is really far less alarming than that of a class of books which is more likely to find its way into the circles of cultivated readers, and, most especially, to familiarize the minds of our young women in the middle and higher ranks with matters on which their fathers and brothers would never venture to speak in their presence.  It is really frightful to think of the interest which we have ourselves heard such readers express in criminals like Paul Ferroll, and in sensual ruffians like Mr. Rochester:  and there is much in the writings of “George Eliot” which, on like grounds, we feel ourselves bound most earnestly to condemn.  Let all honour be paid to those who in our time have laboured to search out and to make known such evils of our social condition as Christian sympathy may in some degree relieve or cure.  But we do not believe that any good end is to be effected by fictions which fill the mind with details of imaginary vice and distress and crime,

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